Toyota is feeling the void as the hot-hatch segment continues to get popular globally. The company will introduce a Ford Fiesta ST-rivaling high-performance hatchback later this decade, a report from Motoring.com.au suggests.
The Japanese automaker is returning to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017 after almost two decades. The company’s racing contender for the event will be a Toyota Yaris that will be built entirely by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) at its technical centre in Cologne, Germany. This Yaris will likely spawn a high-performance road-going variant.
In an interview with the Australian publication, Tetsuya Tada, General Manager and Chief Engineer, Sports Vehicle Management Division, Toyota Motor Corporation, suggested that the company’ need for a hot-hatch may be fulfilled by a sporty Yaris.
“We need a real hot hatch for the brand, because we are returning to WRC in 2017,” Mr. Tada said. “What do you think of the Yaris?”, he asked.
“My job is to create a really exciting hot hatch. There is an order from Akio-san (Toyota Motor Corporation President and Representative Director). Rally is the priority.”
Such a high performance variant would rival with Ford Fiesta ST, VW Polo GTi, Peugeot 208 GTi and the like. Mr. Tada said that he has driven the Ford Fiesta ST and he finds it to be the close rival to compete with. The VW Polo GTi will also be the target, according to him.
The Ford Fiesta ST (UK-spec) is powered by a Euro 6-compliant 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 182 PS (134 kW/180 hp) and 240 Nm (290 Nm with overboost) of torque. The engine comes mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual transmission and allows the Fiesta ST to spring from nought to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 139 mph (224 km/h).
“I will make a competitive hot hatch,” Mr. Tada said. He confirmed that it will be powered by a turbocharged engine and that the turbocharger will be “big”. A decision hasn’t been taken about the drivetrain layout, but he speculated that all-wheel drive is unlikely. No further details are available, but considering that Ford Focus ST is the main target, the turbocharged engine is likely to produce around 200 hp.
The high performance 2017 Toyota Yaris could arrive just in time to heavily promote the brand’s re-entry into the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017.